Sewing advice plea: Should I call time on this vintage pledge project?

Butterick 5747

The interesting waistband first drew me to this pattern – but there began my woes with Butterick 5747…

I’ve been working on one of my projects for A Stitching Odyssey’s Vintage Pattern Pledge recently (a 1960s pattern, Butterick 5747), but have hit a serious snag. I’ve made the bodice, skirt and waistband but the problem is joining them all together.

The first hitch was figuring out how to make the little tab things on each side. The instructions were quite confusing and called for the back parts of the waistband to be sewn to the front, then pushing the tab through the join from the wrong side to the right. This worked fine in the end (albeit a bit puckered, as you can see in the photos below), but meant that the seam allowance at the tabs for joining the waistband to bodice and skirt was used up and tucked inside the tabs.

Here, the tab is facing forward towards the dress centre, as per pattern cover – but see the puckering at the tab base? ARGH!

Terrible Tabs

So joining the skirt to the waistband was really fiddly at the tab joins: it took several attempts to make sure that there wasn’t a gap in the waistband-skirt connection. Joining the bodice, though, has been really frustrating. The front sides need to be gathered and squeezed in along the bodice’s V shape to fit into the acutely pointy part of the waistband – and it’s just not happening!

Here’s a couple of shots of the bodice and skirt parts:

Skirt front Bodice front

So, I’m loathe to abandon the bodice, but right now I mostly just want to stick a short zip into the back of the skirt section, hem it, and say it’s done. Dilemma! Do you think I should just cut my losses and finish this up as a skirt? Can I do something with the bodice? OR should I take a bit more of a break from it and re-approach the waistband and bodice with fresh eyes? Has this worked for you on troublesome sews?

Any and all advice is very welcome!!


21 thoughts on “Sewing advice plea: Should I call time on this vintage pledge project?

  1. Not sure I can give sewing advice- but I can give moral support. “keep going you can do it.” The pattern is beautiful, I can see why you chose it. Maybe take some time away from it just for a day or two try and forget it then come back afresh with renewed enthusiasm. It will be stunning.

    • Thanks for the support, Louise! 🙂 I’m half afraid that if I step away from it for a decent break, that I’ll never come back to it, but maybe it’s the best approach at this stage. It is a really lovely pattern though!

      • I know what you mean. I don’t want to have unfinished projects hanging around either- least not longer than a week or two. Hoping you get the sewing solution soon.

  2. Wow, that sounds confusing! I’d say try and finish it up as best you can – then you may hopefully work out the best way to do it if you were to try again. On the plus side, it’s black, so any slightly dodgy areas won’t show too much 🙂

    • Thanks, I think another break is in order, alright! I’ve been searching about online and have only come across one other garment (a child’s) with the same kind of front shapes but their tutorial is equally scant on advice. Will keep looking though!

  3. I’d take a break and then look at it with fresh eyes. It’s probably a stupid question, but have you tried to hand baste it into place in individual steps i.e. first baste the point into place and then with a separate thread do each side until you have the result you need? It’s very fiddly, but might get you there, unless of course you have already tried that in which case I am sorry, I have nothing to offer you. Good luck 🙂

    • Good suggestions! I’ve been trying to baste it gradually but (oddly) I haven’t tried starting at the point and working outwards. I’ve tried concentrating from the tab points because they’re really what’s messing it up. I’ll try working from the point out and if that doesn’t work, I might just reassess the tab situation once more. Thanks for your tip! 🙂

  4. I know what I’d do……I’m always in such a hurry to finish things, I’d just pop a zipper in and be done with it! The pattern is so neat though, that I would love to see you finish it 🙂

    • Thanks Marie! I might drop Amy a line and see how she dealt with it – hers looks great! And I’m honestly not put off the pattern pledge at all, I just want to get past this hump! 🙂

  5. i would give in a few days – put it in the naughty corner to think about what is has done – and see if it becomes any clearer. if you are still struggling it would make a lovely skirt! i can’t offer any advice as it’s nto that clear from the pattern image what the tabs are supposed to look like. do the 2 edges that you need to attach the bodice to meet behind the tab?

    • Heh, yes, it definitely deserves some naughty corner time! 🙂 The tabs are like two flaps right now that protrude from the waist at either side and are buttoned down towards the centre front when it’s all made up. So the bodice meets the waistband along the top edge of the tabs (with part of the seam allowance already inside the tabs). I think it would have been easier (in hindsight!) to have edited out the tabs, join waistband to skirt and bodice and make the tabs separately.

  6. I would take a short break. When you’re ready, start by marking your stitching line with chalk, thread, whatever. Don’t forget to clip the CF of the bodice to (but not through) the stitching line you marked. That way it can “bend” to fit together with the pointy piece. (You’ll see a funky triangle opening and think it can’t possibly work, but it will. 🙂 ) Also, I would start the gathering stitches from the notch (I’m assuming there’s a notch?) closest to the CF on the bodice and I’d lock them at the beginning with a backstitch/knot function on your SM. You’ll do all of your gathering from the side seam side that way, but you won’t have to worry as much about shifting when you’re working on that fiddly bit.

    I hope I understood your problem enough to give the right advice! Good luck!

    • You’re right, I think I need a distracting but satisfying sew before coming back to this and putting these great tips into practice. Also, it’s a brilliant excuse for another Coco! 🙂

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